My little sister Victoria and her partner, Andrew, came up to visit us for a few days last week. It was so lovely to see the two of them and to have a chance to show them our neck of the woods.

On the Thursday night of their visit we went to Saltimbanco, a Cirque du Soleil performance. It was the third one for Tristan and me, but the first time that Vickie and Andrew had seen these guys in action. It didn’t disappoint: a typical Cirque event with fabulous costumes, amazing aerobatics, incredible strength, lots of music, endless songs in the Cirque made-up language, and the kind of background story line that you can only comprehend if a) you’re French-Canadian or b) you’ve taken a whole heap of drugs. It’s the kind of thing where you just sit with your mouth hanging half-open like a gormless little kid, saying ‘how the HELL do they do that?’ to your viewing companions. Oh – and you get to eat candy floss (cotton candy, for the Americans in the room). It’s a whole circus theme and it’s wonderful.

The story lines of Cirque performances are hilarious – you watch the entire thing, wonder what the hell is going on, and then you google the name of the show the next day, find the official website, and learn something like:

Saltimbanco -from the Italian “saltare in banco”, which literally means “to jump on a bench”-explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms: the people who live there, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of skyscrapers. Between whirlwind and lull, prowess and poetry, Saltimbanco takes spectators on an allegorical and acrobatic journey into the heart of the city.

Saltimbanco is a Cirque du Soleil signature show inspired by the urban fabric of the metropolis and its colorful inhabitants. Decidedly baroque in its visual vocabulary, the show’s eclectic cast of characters draws spectators into a fanciful, dreamlike world, an imaginary city where diversity is a cause for hope.

Who knew? That’s taken straight from the Cirque Saltimbanco website (and I’d link if I could – I’m experiencing slight technical difficulties at the moment) and I think it aptly illustrates the vast gulf between those of us who are ‘creative geniuses’ and those of us who are ‘normal’.

The randomness certainly doesn’t detract from the spectacle, though. The skills of the performers are just amazing – after a while it gets to the point where you’ve seen so much that you have to keep reminding yourself that, regardless of how easy the performers make it look, every single thing that has happened is unimaginably difficult. I think that a Cirque performance is something that everybody should experience at least once in their lives, even if it’s only to comtemplate whether it’s too late to train your own kids to be amazing acrobats.

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